My sincerest apologies for not having any photos of the places mentioned below. Blame it all on my non-existent photography skills about 7-8 years ago when I last visited these places.
After introducing some of the areas in and around the city of Hong Kong, I will be bringing you out on some excursions, which could be part of your next itinerary if you’re going to Hong Kong.
Tian Tan Buddha 天壇大佛
This is the largest outdoor sitting Buddha statue in the world. I wouldn’t fault you if you think that’s already impressive. If you have a chance to visit this, you would be surprise to find that it is located on top of a small hill on Lantau Island. You are required to climb about 250-300 steps just to reach the Buddha itself, which is part of an area known as the Po Lin Monastery (寶蓮禪寺).
When we were there, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car was still under construction. The second time, we were there, the cable car service encountered some technical difficulties resulting in its closure for almost a year. Do not worry, just make sure you get yourself to the Tung Chung MTR station, both the bus terminal and the cable car terminal lies just outside the MTR exit. Be aware that there will be queues for the cable car.
The cable car offers quite a view throughout it’s 5km journey from Tung Chung, across a small body of water and then ascending towards Ngong Ping. Once you arrived at Ngong Ping, either by bus or cable car, you will be quite near to the Buddha. For the hikers, there are plenty of trails around the area, be sure to ask around and there are signs shown for the hiking trails.
Wong Tai Sin Temple 黄大仙祠
Another religion related area is located on the outskirts of Kowloon, away from the tourists but not for the devout followers of Wong Tai Sin. This is a Taoist deity, not to be confused with Buddhism. This particular deity is famous for answering prayers and there will always be people there praying throughout its opening times.
The temple is located just outside the Wong Tai Sin MTR. Even if you are an atheist or of another faith, you could still admire the traditional Chinese-styled architecture used for all the buildings, pavilions and statues dotted around the complex.
Fortune reading or palm reading doesn’t come for free!
If you want to try your luck or have your fortune read, asked around for kau cim. Kau cim is not the name of a person, it is actually the name for the procedure which you would be able to witness for yourself while you’re at the temple. With a bunch of fortune sticks placed in a cylindrical shaped box, you kneel in front of the altar, close your eyes and make your wish, at the same time, shaking the box until one of the sticks fall out. You exchange this particular stick for a specific number on a piece of paper, in which you could bring to any of the soothsayers/fortune tellers at their booths for interpretation. Interpretation doesn’t come for free!
Tip: You could always bring the same number to another booth or multiple booths, for different interpretations or for verification purposes.
Kowloon Walled City Park 九龙寨城
If you have read about the history of Hong Kong, then you should pay this park a visit, it requires some walking, either from Wong Tai Sin MTR or from the Lok Fu MTR.
Kowloon Walled City Park, was originally a bunched up, largely ungoverned settlement made up of various flats with cramp living quarters. Lawlessness was the key word of this settlement and there were plenty of illegal business goings-on held behind closed doors. Sanitary conditions were virtually in existent. The whole complex was finally demolished back in the late 90s, resulting in this park being built in its place.
Having seen the gardens of Versailles and the gardens of the various Bavarian palaces, this reconstructed park is modelled after the famous Jiangnan gardens of the Qing Dynasty. It is made up of eight different landscapes, each with its own unique character and design.
Repulse Bay 淺水灣
The beach is never far from a place like Hong Kong which is surrounded by water and made up of a few islands. The biggest and most famous would be Repulse Bay on Hong Kong Island. There is no MTR service to this area but then, you can always take a bus from Central MTR to Repulse Bay.
The waters are safe to swim in, they have installed shark nets and posted life guards around the area. Showers and changing facilities are also located here. Don’t be surprised to find a busload of Mainland China tourists taking photos of the beach while fully-dressed. Just sit back, relax and observe.
(to be continued)